March 13, 2013

A Few More Sumos
Before We See ‘Chokes

Sadly, this was the last week for growers to harvest this year’s Sumo Mandarin crop. But don’t despair quite yet – we managed to secure enough fruit to extend the season for a short period longer. I hope to have Sumos available in the markets through the Easter holiday. But beware – when we run out it will be February 2014 before we see this fruit again!

Iceberg and Romaine lettuce are still a challenge! The supply remains very tight thanks to the damage that was done by several winter weather events in Arizona over the past couple months. It is just too late to recover and relief is not expected until we can make the move to buying California lettuce in early April. At least early April is right around the corner.

The artichoke season is off to a very slow start this year. Currently, artichokes in Castroville, CA, are recovering from frost damage that occurred over the past few weeks. Frost causes the plant to defend itself by sheading a thin outer layer of skin, called the epidermal (just like people!).  This process is much like what happens when we get sunburned and our skin starts to peel. This is referred to and marketed as “frost kissed” by the industry, with claims that it produces a nutty flavor. The challenge is that in a very short time, the artichokes discolor and look very unattractive! We expect the growers to have cleaned their plantations and recovered by the first week in April. It is at that point we expect the season to kick off with great quality and the kind of volume that allows us to buy in quantities that allow for price promotions. So watch for that.

Have a great day! – Joe

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